A council committee held a public hearing last week on a measure whose genesis highlighted the political byplay between council Chairman Arrington Dixon and council member Clarke, who's giving up his Ward 1 seat to challenge Dixon in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary.
The measure began life as an amendment by Clarke, but ended up as a bill with Dixon's name on it.
The bill seeks to include Asian and Oriental Americans and Hispanics of European descent in the city's minority contracting law, which allows officially recognized minorities to bid for "set-aside" contracts with the city.
Clarke is miffed because the bill partially copies what he wanted to do last April 6, when he attempted to attach a rider to a pending cable television bill, which already included the two excluded groups in its list of eligible minorities.
Dixon said he favored the intent of Clarke's amendment but felt that it wasn't the appropriate time to introduce it.
After discussion of the amendment by several members, Clarke, according to the transcript of the session, announced, "I withdraw it."
But first Dixon tried to refer the amendment to a council committee.
"I withdrew it," Clarke said. "I don't know how you refer something that's been withdrawn. If you read the rules, you don't refer amendments, you refer bills."
Then, said Dixon, "The chair defines this document as a bill. I sign this as a bill and I am introducing it to Mrs. Charlene Drew Jarvis' committee for future action."
So supporters of the expanded list of minorities wouldn't forget his obscured role, Clarke distributed copies of the transcript last week, along with a press release that labeled Dixon's action "legislative forgery."
Unrelated to the political sparring is a separate bill introduced by council member John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2) that also would include Asian and Oriental Americans under the minority contracting law.